Making Counseling Count Part 2: Active Participation Is Key

Active participation is key

When you are in a counseling relationship, remember that honesty is the foundation for long-term gain. Since you are seeking clear feedback, total candor is a must. Clarity from you ensures equal clarity from your counselor.

The following recommendations will help you get the most out of your counseling sessions.

Digest Sessions Afterward. Counseling isn’t about magical outcomes, it’s a journey and a process. The best way to accelerate that process is by reflecting on and assimilating what you’ve learned during your dialogue with your counselor. After each session make your own mental or written notes and don’t be shy about bringing questions for discussion to your next session.

Commit to Your Treatment. It’s in your best interest not to skip any sessions. If and when your therapist gives you homework in between sessions, be sure to do it. If you find yourself skipping sessions or are reluctant to go, ask yourself why.

Is it possible you are avoiding painful discussion? Did a topic in the last session touch a nerve? If so, bring this up in your next session. It is very important to talk about your reluctance with your therapist in order to keep progressing forward.

Practice What You’ve Learned. Professional counseling is an investment in yourself and your relationship with others. Put what you’re learning in your sessions into practice in real life.

Share What You Are Feeling. You will get the most out of therapy if you are open and honest with your therapist about your feelings. If you feel embarrassed or ashamed, or something is too painful to talk about, don’t be afraid to tell your therapist about these feelings. When you build a strong therapeutic relationship, you can work together to get at the heart of the issues.

Participate in Your Recovery. You and your therapist are partners in your recovery. Your therapist can help guide you to learn how to resolve problems and can make suggestions for treatment, but only you can make the changes you need to move forward.

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Next week Part 3: Assessing Your Progress

Celeste R. Winberry, LCSW, serves as a consultant on mental health issues for a range of health service organizations. She lives in Clifton, N.J., has over 25 years experience in the field, and can be reached via